By Abdul Aziz Bah
It is no doubt that the prophet (SAW) predicted the division of Islam into sects. In a Hadith narrated Abu `Amir al-Hawdhani who said: “Mu`awiyah b. Abi Sufiyan stood among us and said: Beware! The Apostle of Allah (PBUH) stood among us and said: Beware! The people of the Book before were split up into seventy two sects, and this community will be split into seventy three: seventy two of them will go to Hell and one of them will go to Paradise,…..”Sunan Abi Dawood 4597 (Classified Albani as Hasan). Of course no one will contest this or find it difficult to comprehend or believe as all these sects agree on this regardless of their differences.
Over the years, we have seen groups emerging to be followers of Islam. Everyone claims to be the best.This is probably because Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was quoted to have said that “seventy two of them will go to Hell and one of them will go to Paradise.” How then do we distinguish those that are on the right path when all of these sects believe that they follow Quran and Sunnah?
Well, let’s save that for another day.
The advent of these groups has not only created confusion among Muslims, but has also sparked hatred and division between groups. This has gone to the extent of defaming other Muslims especially scholars, abusing people on social media, personal attacks, Mockery,and to some extent wars, which are all very wrong and unacceptable to Allah and humanity.
With the presence of the internet and social media, this has even become worse. Many people are using social media to promote their sects, to criticize people from other sects and to defame others.
While the prophet has predicted the division of Islam into sects, Quran has made it clear and explicit that dividing Islam into sects is forbidden. Allah has said, “As for those who divide Their religion and break up into sects, thou hast no part in them in the least: Their affair is with Allah: He will in the end tell them the truth of all that they did.” [Al-Qur’an 6:159].
There would be a great punishment for those who divide Islam into sects. Regardless of this verse, many people find pleasure in calling themselves Sunni, Shia, Ahmadi, Sufi, Salafi, etc. Hardly you hear people say they are Muslims and stop there. The names of most of these sects always accompanied the sentence “I’m a Muslim.” The Qur’an says “Say I am of those who bow in Islam”.[Al-Qur’an 41:33] In other words, say, “I am a Muslim” Nothing else than being a Muslim and a true Muslim is not the one who says “I am a Shia or Sunni or Wahabi.” In fact, a true Muslim is not even the one who introduces himself as ‘a muslim’ but the one who obey Allah and follow the example of his messenger.
Regarding the disunity this has created, we should realize as Muslims that the similarities out-way the differences. But many people fail to recognize this and make enemies with members from other sects.Even between the Companions of the prophet(SAW), there were differences among them but they never made themselves enemies.The Islamic scholars have differences of opinion in matters relating to Islamic jurisprudence but they never became enemies to each other. This is because they believed that there is more to been Muslims than the minor differences.
If we want to hate on each other, let us take note of Allah’s verses in the Quran where he says, “Obey Allah and His Messenger and do not quarrel among yourselves lest you lose heart and your momentum disappear. And be steadfast. Allah is with the steadfast.” (8:46)
Here Allah is giving us the effect of being divided which makes us weak in Faith. Also, Allah has said, “Verily, this brotherhood of yours is a single brotherhood, and I am your Lord and Cherisher: therefore serve Me (and no other)” [Al-Anbiyah: 92]
Because Allah has united us, let us serve him and forget our differences which are minor as compared to the greater similarities which are fundamental like the five pillars of Islam and other beliefs.Remember the prophet said “you will never enter Jannah until you believe and you will never believe until you love each other….” Loving each other is key in Islam. If people can love themselves for worldly gain like that of Soccer, why can’t we then love each other for the greatest gift of life: Islam?
May Allah unite us as Muslims, guide us to the straight path and give us the knowledge and understanding of Islam.